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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

142                A Painter's Views

It is also true that, as with money, more is made by saving
than in any other way, and the surest way to lose colour
is to play with it inconsiderately, not knowing how to leave
well alone. A touch of pleasing colour should on no account
be stirred without consideration.

That we can see in a natural object more colour than
strikes us at a glance, if we look for it attentively, will not
be denied by any who have tried to look for it. Thus, take
a dull, dead, level, grimy old London wall: at a first glance
we can see no colour in it, nothing but a more or less purplish
mass, got, perhaps as nearly as in any other way, by a tint
mixed with black, Indian red and white. If, however, we
look for colour in this, we shall find here and there a broken
brick with a small surface of brilliant crimson, hard by there
will be another with a warm orange hue perceivable through
the grime by one who is on the look out for it, but by no one
else. Then there may be bits of old advertisement of which
here and there a gaily coloured fragment may remain, or a
rusty iron hook or a bit of bright green moss ; few indeed are
the old walls, even in the grimiest parts of London, on which
no redeeming bits of colour can be found by those who are
practised in looking for them. To like colour, to wish to
find it, and thus to have got naturally into a habit of looking
for it, this alone will enable a man to see colour and to make
a note of it when he has seen it, and this alone will lead him
towards a pleasing and natural scheme of colour in his work.

Good colour can never be got by putting down colour
which is not seen ; at any rate only a master who has long
served accuracy can venture on occasional inaccuracyŚ
telling a lie, knowing it to be a lie, and as, se non vera, ben
trovata. The grown man in his art may do this, and indeed
is not a man at all unless he knows how to do it daily and
hourly without departure from the truth even in his boldest
lie ; but the child in art must stick to what he sees. If he
looks harder he will see more, and may put more, but till he
sees it without being in any doubt about it, he must not
put it. There is no such sure way of corrupting one's colour
sense as the habitual practice of putting down colour which one
does not see; this and the neglecting to look for it are equal
faults. The first error leads to melodramatic vulgarity, the
other to torpid dullness, and it is hard to say which is worse.